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The bit-plane method (BPM) is the simplest way to implement the progressive image transmission (PIT) system. In this paper, we propose a simple and effective method to improve the image quality of the BPM in each phase. This method generates a tree-structured codebook to describe the contents of the pixels of the transmitted image. By transmitting this tree structured codebook to the receiver level by level, we can increase the image quality of the BPM in each phase. The experimental results show that the image quality of our scheme turns out better than that of the BPM. Moreover, our scheme can better impress the human visual system in an earlier phase than the BPM.